0824 GMT August 13, 2022
As the war enters its fifth month, the capture of Severodonetsk marks an important strategic win for Moscow, which is seeking to gain full control over the east of the country, AFP reported.
The industrial hub was the scene of weeks of running battles before the Ukrainian Army began withdrawing its outgunned forces to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk.
Russian troops have entered Lysychansk, which faces Severodonetsk on high ground across the Donets river. Its capture would give Russia control of the entire Luhansk region of the Donbas.
Far from the embattled Donbas, meanwhile, a flurry of Russian missiles struck targets in northern and western Ukraine.
"More than 50 missiles of various types were fired: Air-, sea- and ground-based," Ukraine's Air Force Command said Saturday, noting the difficulty of intercepting Russian models such as the Iskander.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said cities as far away as Lviv, near the Polish border, had been struck.
"This confirms ... that Ukraine needs more assistance with weapons, and that air defence systems – the modern systems which our partners have – should not be on the sites or in storage, but in Ukraine," he said in his daily address.
In Saint Petersburg on Saturday, Putin said Russia would deliver Iskander-M missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the coming months, as he received Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
He also offered to upgrade Belarus' warplanes to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons, in comments broadcast on Russian television.
Ukraine said it had come under "massive bombardment" Saturday morning from neighbouring Belarus which, although a Russian ally, is not officially involved in the conflict.
Twenty rockets "fired from the territory of Belarus and from the air" targeted the village of Desna in the northern Chernigiv region, Ukraine's northern military command said.
Up to four explosions shook central Kyiv in the early hours, in the first such attack on the city in weeks. Two more blasts were heard on the southern outskirts of the city later in the day, a Reuters reporter said.